Connecting – 2: The Simplest Things

These are scattered journal entries about reconnecting.

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I saw my neighbor yesterday riding his four-wheeler around the corner lot, holding his toddler son to his chest. His two horses, a chestnut and a roan, pasture there, along with his three goats. They watch impassively, not at all frightened of the buzzing machine. The man is in his twenties, he has this mobile toy he loves, he holds his wonderful son, and both of them are moving in the spirit of the ride, going round and round within the white horse-fence.  What shines out is the kindly bond between them and their comfort together. The boy is leaning back against his dad's chest, held in by strong arms, the father is flowing with the movement, the machine he guides, the son he's opening a new world to. A simple thing, life can be lived.

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Here it is November, the rains have come and the fields are greening up, as if it were spring. It reminds me of the Australian reverse of our northern seasons, yet here we have a near complete drought under strong sun for 5 or 6 months, followed by 5 or 6 months of rains that keep you looking over your shoulder for that possible floodwater pouring out of a stream or a nearby field. Roses still bloom as fall plantings take hold, the oaks are always green, yet there is a scattering of fall yellow and red in nearby yards, and an occasional bare tree. In another few weeks, the remaining leafed out fruit and nut trees, the figs, mulberry, pomegranate, walnut and almond will be divesting the last leaves, along with our catalpa and chinaberry trees. I am coming out of a moderate depression of the past few weeks, but even the moderate state is bleak and empty enough to scare L, not to mention me.  I keep slamming the door on all that but never quite get it shut. Everything I want to do can't happen unless I let the power in me out for all to feel and react to. Keeping it in is like trying to suppress fire with the moisture of my breath. Open up to the day, it's spring in November!

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I awoke in the middle of one night, or rather I gave up trying to sleep. Thoughts of an incident at work were stinging me – I had failed to do X, or Y was upset with me or a clever strategy had backfired. Whatever it was, I couldn't stop going over it and had made myself weary with the fears of what would follow from what felt like the greatest blunder of my life. After hours of tossing, I saw it was getting toward dawn. I decided to get up but my mind had become foggy – I felt drugged and run down after pouring all my mental energy into the bleakest interpretation of what I had done, who I was. Not wanting to wake L that early, I walked in the dark toward the bathroom, feeling my way around obstacles, but still sunk in the misery of those obsessive thoughts. I knew very well this thickness of mind and lingering anxiety could lead to a day of depression in which I would be able to do nothing useful. Then, stepping into the bathroom, I pushed the door closed behind me, reached to the right and flipped the light switch.

And the room came alive with light, shapes, color. Suddenly, my senses and mind were flooded, as each object, tiled pattern, clothing dropped on the floor, magazines, open bottles, everything called up worlds of associations. The brightness of the everyday was dazzling, each thing a link to the simple world of being alive. There were the deep blue and bright white tiles L put in when she redesigned the bathroom, a copy of English Gardens on the floor showing an add for intricate glass greenhouses, that special red hair blower L loves , the dozens of tiny bottles of lotions, sunscreen, hair treatments, a rack of glistening ear rings, the quieting thick towels hanging from racks, the tangling weaves of long bright runners leading me eye across the room to the wall-width mirror and the image of tousled me taking it all in. Colors pull the mind in many directions, a blaze of lightening-fast connections that help assemble the external world as something real, something that you can't ignore. I felt comfort and relief at this rich sight of a hundred tiny things. All the associations they called to mind crisscrossed in the familiar jumble of a shared life with L that reassured me. They were part of a reality too complicated to be submerged by inner bleakness. A light switch took me out of myself for that moment to mingle with this population of ordinary things L and I have drawn here for a hundred little purposes.